Oslo parents guide

Oslo Parent Guide

This is exactly the type of film it appears to be - serious, dialogue-heavy and quasi-educational.

Overall B-

HBO Max: Based on the unlikely true story of the intrigue, back-channel talks, and intense negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

Release date May 29, 2021

Violence C+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Oslo rated TV-MA? The MPAA rated Oslo TV-MA

Run Time: 118 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Often portrayed as a life of glamor, espionage and intrigue, diplomacy is a real world endeavor that relies on personal relationships, accurate information, and tenacious effort. Sometimes, however, it requires innovation, and even risk. In Oslo, desperate diplomats roll the dice and try an unorthodox approach to ending the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The movie begins in 1993 with Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson), a senior Norwegian diplomat haunted by witnessing violence on the streets of Gaza up close. Along with her husband, Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott), she cajoles Ahmed Qurie (Salim Dau), a high ranking member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to meet for unconventional peace talks with a professor speaking on behalf of Yossi Beilin (Itzik Cohen), Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel.

The meetings are not just unconventional; they are also unofficial, cloaked in secrecy, and under the radar of any official diplomatic organization. They are hosted by the Fafo Institute, a think tank co-founded by Rød-Larsen. He’s convinced that traditional peace talks, with their rigid agendas, public discussions, and broad stakeholder participation are doomed to failure. Only in complete privacy, he believes, can Israeli and Palestinian negotiators see each other as human, learn to trust one another, and try to resolve their differences.

Luckily, Juul and Rød-Larsen are able to coax a few officials of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer a modicum of support and persuade a wealthy friend to offer the use of a palatial manor for the talks. As Qurie and Israeli professor Yair Hirschfeld (Doval’e Glickman) begin their discussions, it becomes apparent that decades of animosity don’t simply disappear over a few friendly chats and homemade waffles.

Oslo is exactly the kind of film it appears to be. It’s a serious, dialogue-heavy, historical production that gives brief glimpses into the characters of significant people. The writing is crisp and credible and the lines are well delivered. Salim Dau is the movie’s standout as Ahmed Qurie, bringing an emotional depth to the character, and the rest of the cast are also solid. The weakest performance in the movie is from Geraldine Alexander, who plays the cook and housekeeper. Although her meals play a surprisingly important role in bringing the negotiators together, her character is so badly stereotyped that she could be a doll from Disneyland’s Small World ride. With the golden braids, cheerful bobbing head, and slight accent, she seems to come out of a character dispenser entitled “Scandinavian Woman #4”.

Also problematic is the film’s negative content, including historical violence and social drinking that is occasionally carried to excess. Were this a theatrical release instead of a streaming one, it would be R-rated for its three dozen profanities, a third of which are sexual expletives.

Thankfully, Oslo comes with powerful messages about recognizing the shared humanity of all people, even one’s opponents. The film’s most profoundly moving moments are those in which the Israelis and Palestinians are able to truly see each other as men with lives and families and memories that matter and deserve respect. Other themes include the value of peace and the need to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Along those lines are messages about compromise, cooperation, tolerance, and humility.

After the eleven days of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza that have taken place this month, a movie focusing on a past peace treaty between these antagonists is certainly timely. Here’s hoping it’s also a pathway to future efforts at peace.

Directed by Bartlett Sher. Starring Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, and Jeff Wilbusch. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release May 29, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Oslo

Rating & Content Info

Why is Oslo rated TV-MA? Oslo is rated TV-MA by the MPAA

Violence: There is a scene of people burning an Israeli flag. There are frequent scenes of violent protests with gunshots and rockets. People are seen shooting and punching each other. Protesters throw rocks at soldiers who fire guns at them. A main character has flashbacks to violent protests and deaths. A person talks about soldiers breaking people’s bones. A person jokes about being killed in their sleep. There are pictures of bloodied dead and injured people. A man examines cars, looking for bombs. Men push and slap each other. There is mention of the assassination of a politician.
Sexual Content: A married couple makes out on the sofa despite her protests. A man dances with a woman.
Profanity: There are just over three dozen profanities, including 21 sexual expletives, 12 terms of deity, a couple of scatological curses and minor swear words respectively and a crude term for male genitalia.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People drink alcohol in social situations sometimes to excess. People drink alcohol in workplace meetings. Adults smoke cigarettes.

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Oslo Parents' Guide

For a detailed timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, you can check this link:

Britannica Pro Con: Historical Timeline: 1900-Present

A more succinct timeline is available below:

The Washington Post: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A chronology

The intifada referred to in the movie was the first of two major Palestinian uprisings. For more information, you can read the following:

Vox: What were the intifadas?

For a fuller discussion of the Oslo Accords, you can check these links:

CNN: Oslo Accords Fast Facts

PBS Frontline: Shattered Dreams of Peace

The Guardian: It’s now clear: The Oslo peace accords were wrecked by Netanyahu’s bad faith

Do you support either side on this conflict? Why? Where do your opinions come from? Have you ever had a serious conversation with someone whose opinions differ from yours? What did you learn from them?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Abe is the story of a teenager who tries to unite the feuding halves of his family – Israeli and Palestinian.

The dispiriting conditions of Palestinian refugee camps are a catalyst for action in Paradise Now as two young men decide just how far they are willing to go to liberate their people.

Israel’s commitment to providing a safe home for all Jews is the centerpiece of Live and Become, a story about a Christian who pretends to be Jewish to escape a refugee camp.

It’s easy to demonize and hate people you don’t know. In the documentary Free Trip to Egypt, Americans are given the chance to travel to Egypt and get to know people personally instead of through cultural stereotypes.